Japanese exports rose more than forecast in February, supporting the nation’s emergence from a recession last year. The value of overseas shipments rose 2.4 percent from a year earlier, the government said, compared with a median estimate for a 0.3 percent increase. Imports fell 3.6 percent, leaving a 424.6 billion yen ($3.5 billion) trade deficit.
Sales abroad are a growing bright spot in a country that’s still struggling with weak spending by consumers and businesses at home. Falling oil prices are helping shrink the deficit, which swelled after Japan increased fossil-fuel purchases from abroad after the Fukushima disaster in 2011.
“Exports will probably continue to be the main driver for Japan’s economy in the first half of this year,” said Minoru Nogimori, an economist at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Tokyo. “With a recovery in wages, consumption may gain momentum and become the key driver for the economy in the latter half of the year.”